For much of the world, the ability to communicate effectively without being in the same room – or even the same time zone – is no longer a novelty; in fact, it has evolved to become the norm. Your business may be headquartered in Forsyth County, but the only limits to the global reaches of your company’s success are the ones you place on it yourself. It’s not always easy to think beyond the city limits that your business currently occupies, especially if you are a new business owner. But we have some ideas and strategies that you can employ to help your business literally show the world what it can do.
Why does it matter?
You may be wondering why you need to consider international engagement strategies. Your business is doing well, you have met many of your goals, your employees are happy – it may seem like an unnecessary complication to create an international engagement plan.
Your business is, well, your business, and you know it best. You might weigh your options and decide not to pursue international engagement. But don’t let the phrase “international engagement” fool you into thinking the only goal is to open a storefront in another country. For those living in Forsyth County and its surrounding counties, you will not have to go far to pursue international engagement, because much of it is arriving at your doorstep.
As part of the metro-Atlanta area, Forsyth County is one of the top ten fastest-growing areas in the nation. This growth doesn’t just include business – it includes the residents of Forsyth County, many of whom have come from countries around the world. Whether a person has moved to be with family, to start a business of their own, or for another reason entirely, the result is the same: the globally diverse population of Forsyth County makes it prudent for your business to consider and employ international engagement initiatives regardless of whether you plan to expand your business outside the United States.
What should I do?
If you are envisioning hours of long meetings dedicated to implementing your new international engagement initiatives, take a step back for a moment. For starters, there is no need to re-invent the wheel. Many businesses around you have successfully created and implemented the type of strategy you need, and experts have provided insight into upcoming trends that likely apply to your company. Use that knowledge to help you tailor a plan of your own that reflects your business’ values, goals, and strengths. Read on for some expert tips that can give you the start you need:
Take a survey
You don’t really need to walk around and survey your neighboring businesses and community members, but you can do some research on which international communities are most prevalent in Forsyth County and how the products or services you offer can best serve those communities. This includes international businesses – aside from employing the general good practice of creating relationships with other business owners, knowing more about other international businesses in the area will better inform you on best practices when it comes to engaging global clients and employees.
Once you know more about the demographics of your fellow businesses and residents, consider if any changes need to be made to your own practices. You don’t need to retool every product or service you offer, but take a moment to ask yourself questions like: Is my company website easily translated to another language? Have I identified the needs my industry can meet for key demographics? Do I have an understanding of the business and cultural practices of international businesses in my area? You don’t need to become an expert overnight, but taking a survey of your own business practices and opportunities for growth is a great first step in making your business more globally accessible.
Make employment opportunities worth it
There will likely be an opportunity for you to hire a team member who is interviewing from somewhere else on the globe. Let’s say you talk to them for a while, realize they are a great fit, and want them to move to Forsyth and be part of your team. Are you able to incentivize them to do so?
If a potential employee is willing, it’s a reasonable requirement that they work for you in the office, especially for industries where working from home is often a non-starter, like manufacturing or much of healthcare. But if you were going to uproot your life and move halfway around the world, what else would you want to make the experience as fulfilling and worthwhile as possible?
Consider offering incentives like mentorship and upskilling opportunities. If working for your company means they gain the additional opportunity to advance their skill set or learn from an expert, an international employee is much more likely to be willing to make such a big change to their lives. This is also a chance for you to ask your potential hire what they would like to get out of these opportunities – are they looking to earn a specific certification or reach a higher level in your industry? Knowing what they are looking for can help you decide how to tailor your offerings to fit.
This idea is good for all employees, not just your international ones. Training your employees in new skills and offering ongoing education is going to benefit everyone, including you as a business owner.
International opportunity is knocking at your door – sometimes literally. You don’t have to make plans to expand your business across five continents, but you should take stock of your current international engagement initiatives and strategies to determine if your business is reflecting the demographics of the community it most often serves. Consider it an ongoing assignment. As Forsyth County grows and changes, don’t let your business fall behind.